An ‘Instagram For Doctors’ Is Changing How Patients See Specialists

An ‘Instagram For Doctors’ Is Changing How Patients See Specialists

Most people’s Instagram nowadays is flooded with an assortment of cat pictures, selfies, or your friend’s latest food creation. Not exactly useful in providing value in someone’s everyday life.

One doctor wants to change that.

There’s an ‘Instagram for doctors’ that’s taking advantage of the popular platform’s model in the capture-and-post age we find ourselves in.

The app, Figure 1, allows doctors worldwide to upload anonymous photos of perplexing and compelling medical cases to a photo-sharing database. The goal is to create a forum, where doctors can trade information and exchange advice.


“Images and learning medicine go hand in hand,” said Dr. Josh Landy, the creator of Figure 1 and a doctor in an intensive care unit in Toronto. “Images have been used in medicine to teach and learn for thousands of years.”

Landy’s idea for Figure 1 was sparked a few years ago (2012), where he noticed younger attendants, residents and students at Standford using photos to describe and discuss various cases they encountered regularly.

“My patients are sick and have complex needs,” Landy continued. “Often we’ll use images and pictures to communicate what’s going on with those patients. I absolutely recognize the behavior in my own life.”

The biggest obstacle when dealing with sensitive images is privacy. Landy worked with lawyers to create safeguards, protecting patients’ identities. Only verified health care professionals can post and comment on images, though anyone can download the app. But before doctors can post pictures, patients must sign an in-app permission form.

Landy has major aspirations for the app, similar to the original Instagram.

“The big goal is to help democratize medical knowledge,” he explained. “I want that knowledge to be everywhere in the world where there is [an] Internet signal, because the knowledge of specialists shouldn’t be beyond the reach of the world’s medical community.”

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